The share of national budget expenditures for healthcare is as high as 15.7 percent, and represents 4.1 percent of GDP. In addition, USD $700 million in soft loans and grant funds from donors have been used for the consolidation of economic and technical capacities of the healthcare system in order to upgrade to the latest medical equipment. Despite the ongoing global financial and economic downturn, the funding for healthcare has grown 2.5 times in the last three years.
Owing to the complexity of measures undertaken in the last 20 years, maternal and child mortality has decreased more than threefold. Over the past ten years, Uzbekistan has managed to reduce maternal and infant mortality three times, and the rate of children born with hereditary diseases fell more than 14 percent.
In its “Health Workers Reach Index,” Save the Children placed Uzbekistan ninth among the 161 nations surveyed in terms of government healthcare for the younger generation based on three indicators:
- Healthcare worker density;
- Percentage of children receiving three doses of the vaccine for diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus; and
- Birth attendance rate.
Uzbekistan in this index is placed in the 9th position (Germany - 10, Russia - 11, France - 12, UK - 14, USA - 15, Latvia - 41). Among the top ten countries with the best performance are seven European countries (Switzerland (1), Finland (2), Ireland (3), Norway (4), Belarus (5), Denmark (6), Sweden (7) and Cuba (8).
All primary medical care in Uzbekistan is free of charge. Likewise are the emergency and pediatric aids, obstetrics and treatment of a whole range of socially significant diseases; that is, oncological, infectious, and other ailments.
The national healthcare system has eradicated polio, measles, and rubella and the incidence of many other infectious diseases has declined sharply. We have also managed to increase life expectancy from 67 years in 1991 to the current 73, and up to 75 years among women.
All this became possible largely due to implementation of the National Healthcare Development Program, adopted in 1998.
A novel and unique system has been established to provide the population with free, highly-qualified emergency medical care, a structure composed of specialized regional hospitals and branches in towns and districts meeting the highest requirements and international standards, an arrangement of emergency medical aid services managed and coordinated by the Emergency Medical Aid National Research Center.
To transform the public healthcare system, over 3,200 rural medical units have been established across the nation and outfitted with leading-edge medical facilities, where primary healthcare is provided by general practitioners.
Healthcare institutions’ network at both the district and regional levels has been refined. Concise and soundly equipped and staffed district medical associations and regional diversified hospitals and policlinics have also been instituted.
Ten national specialized applied research medical centers are currently functioning in the country based on acknowledged academic schools, including those in cardiology and cardio-surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, urology, ophthalmology, pulmonology, endocrinology and others with the concentration of highly-qualified professionals and the latest hi-tech medical services.
In the past, our efforts have been directed primarily at creating optimum conditions for bearing and bringing up a healthy generation, with the goal of uplifting the expectancy of life and its quality. We quite naturally have had to carry out a tremendous amount of work, which includes transforming the psyche and consciousness of the people of Uzbekistan. In particular, in order to shape a healthy family and curtail the occurrence of potential hereditary diseases, a system of mandatory pre-marriage medical examinations has been instituted.
Basically, all regions of Uzbekistan have prenatal maternity and childhood screening centers. All pregnant women in rural areas are provided with state-funded multivitamins essential for nurturing a healthy baby. As a result, the network of maternity and childhood modern screening centers has been able to reduce the incidence of children born with hereditary and congenital diseases by more than 1.7 times since the year 2000.
Children under the age of two receive free vaccinations, facilitating the complete elimination of such life-threatening maladies as diphtheria, tetanus, and polio. Almost 100 percent of children under the age of 14 undergo comprehensive medical inspection once every two years, and fertile women receive an examination every year.
Training highly qualified medical specialists is key to Uzbekistan’s overall healthcare reforms. Medical higher education institutions currently function in Samarkand, Andijan, Bukhara, Urgench and Nukus, along with the Tashkent Medical Academy. Radical changes have been instituted to train medical nurses at the undergraduate level.
The Tashkent International Symposium “Healthy Mother – Healthy Child” was held in November 2011 with the participation of the WHO Director General Margaret Chan, the leadership of UNICEF, UNFPA, and many other international organizations. The Resolution of the Symposium was adopted, once again demonstrating that the National model of protection of maternity and childhood in Uzbekistan can serve as a model for not only the region, but for many countries around the world.